Podcast: Landing clients without discovery calls

Are discovery calls necessary to win new clients?

For me, not so much. With a chronic illness and short windows to work, I absolutely cannot spend hours a week on sales calls. And in reality, even without a full bill of health, I wouldn’t be doing them.

Sure, if there’s a £5k project and they want to speak to me, then we can have a chat. BUT I have always qualified them first so that call is just to check we’re a good fit, rather than just a “get to know you” chat. By the time we get on the phone, I know the project is happening.

When it comes to £1-3k projects and my smaller online courses or training, I can qualify clients and sell without any discovery calls. 

If you want to know how I do it and some tips for you to try too, just click below to listen to my appearance on The 15 Minute Freelancer.

In the episode, I share my process to avoid time-consuming discovery calls and focus on the more valuable leads;

  • How to avoid time wasters who are just after free advice
  • When you *should* take a call
  • How to make it easy for people to buy from you
  • Why you should write your own business rules and take ownership of your time

When you’ve finished listening, just click here to find more PR tips.

How to land media coverage for your business this summer (even if you’re off with the kids!)

With many companies looking to wind down or take some time out over the holidays, this is a great time to put together a plan of action with so business keeps ticking along without your constant attention. And I’m going to show you how you do it too with some easy summer marketing tips! 

One of my favourite tactics with my 1:1 coaching clients is ‘newsjacking’ where we quite literally ‘hijack’ the news. So I’ll see a topical story in my client’s industry or the local/national news and we dive in with a comment or our own take on the story. 

Have a think about hot topics that people are talking about or things that are happening RIGHT now and you too could start appearing in the media commenting on these very subjects.

Here are just a few examples of simple PR ideas and how to easily raise your profile this summer…

Summer PR idea 1 – A heatwave

When the weather is unbearably hot, the media will be looking for experts to share tips on things like helping babies and children sleep when it’s so hot, products to help you stay cool in the office etc. 

Summer PR idea 2 – Covid restrictions lifting

Your local area’s lifestyle magazines, newspapers, business magazines will all be covering this today and this week. You could share how your business is changing (or not!) and why.

If you’re a marketer you could share summer marketing tips to help companies welcome back customers in a safe way. Or any other strategy you know others would find helpful to know during this tricky time.

Summer PR idea 3 – School holidays

At the time of publishing this article, it is the last week of school before loooong old summer holiday, and even if you read this halfway through or after the break, it’s still super relevant multiple times a year.

Through school holidays, a business coach could share tips on how to keep your business going over the hols without missing out on time with the kids. An accountant supporting small businesses could share their views on challenges their ideal client faces with budgets while half the team on holiday. A hotel could share their venue for a ‘top hotel for families’ roundup.

There is SO much you can do with each of these examples. The main thing is to consider your expertise and find that newsworthy way in which you can jump in on the story too! 

How do I know what to comment on or where the stories are?

Start by setting up some Google Alerts too with keywords relating to your expertise and/or your business.

You’ll then be emailed every time that word or phrase is published online. It’s an amazing way to keep on top of topical news without needing to spend hours searching as it just appears in your inbox!

Also, set up Google Alerts for your name and company name so you can see if anyone published something about you.

You can also try registering for your local newspaper or journalist email updates to keep on top of what’s happening in the area.

I enjoy following journalists and media outlets on Twitter to see what they’re talking and writing about.

The ‘newsjacking’ possibilities really are endless!

Everyone has a newsworthy story inside them. I know this from extracting thousands of them with clients over the years.

Jumping in on a current hot topic is a simpler way that any entrepreneur or business owner can access media coverage. And PR works even if you’re new or unknown.

With topical stories you have to act fast. If you wait too long, they’ll be talking about something else. Take action now and find out which journalists are writing about the topics you want to dive in on. And simply reach out with your take/opinion and why YOU are the person to speak to.

Pulling out those newsworthy stories (and showing companies how to get free exposure!) is one of my favourite things to do in my 1:1 PR strategy calls and done-for-you service. Just hit the button below if you’d like to start appearing in the media too.

PR is a super way to raise your profile and get in front of thousands of new eyes and build your industry street cred along the way too. Landing media coverage is much easier and quicker than you think. And it’s A LOT of fun 😉

Want to start using free media coverage to get your business in front of your dream clients?

I help companies pull out their newsworthy stories and do their own PR in-house (saving thousands in ad spends each year and reaching thousands, even millions, more people.

Find out more here...

How to be quoted in website articles and blogs

For newbies to PR or those that are short on time, sharing a quote for someone else’s piece is a simple yet effective way to start. I was fortunate to be involved in a PR Moment magazine article where I shared my views on the PR industry.

The question was simple – “can you get rich working in PR?”

Rather than spending time researching or writing an entire piece, I contributed my thoughts in only 150 words. The magazine then puts the article together and promotes it to their audience when it goes live. My part was really rather simple but massively effective to get my name included in an industry magazine.

Another recent comment I shared was around how to be confident on new client calls. This is something a lot of small businesses and sole traders can find challenging. It’s hard to take control of the conversation and not have a big company to fall back on when there are tricky questions. I used to dread the telephone but fortunately learnt some tactics to now make it an enjoyable experience and was thrilled to share these with the magazine’s audience.

The Editor of the Underpinned magazine emailed me some questions to answer which took me around 10 minutes to write my answers and send back. They then pull out the best quotes that fit their piece and mentioned me each time I was quoted.

So, how do you do get your quote featured in someone else’s article?

These particular quotes were confirmed after I saw a shout out on social media. I follow the magazine Editors on Twitter and we’re connected on LinkedIn. This is not by accident.

I’m a Freelance Journalist but have spent the last decade working in PR, so as a PR trainer, I like to keep on top of industry news. I follow key people,  magazines, websites etc and registered for many PR and journalism news updates. This means I can reach out to the right people when I have an idea AND I can start to get on their radar too so when an opportunity does arise, they will hopefully recognise my name.

Here are my top tips on how to get a quote published in a website or blog but the same principle applies for other media such as magazines and newspapers too…

Keep an eye out

Follow influential journalists, editors, producers, media organisations etc on social media and keep an eye on the things they share and what they are talking about. Often the media will put call outs to hear from industry experts and that is when you can put yourself forward to be included.

Sign up for any newsletters that may be relevant too so you can keep an eye on what they’re publishing and if there could potentially be a place for you in the near future.

Get on their radar

Once you are following certain media outlets and their staff, you don’t have to wait until they ask to hear from people before you get in on their radar. Retweet their tweets, comment on their posts, tell them how much you enjoyed their last article.

Be quick

There are lots of people vying for media attention but if you react fast you have a much higher chance of being featured. If you see a shout out on social media to hear from an expert on topics you know inside out, do NOT wait 5 days to reply. 

Be easy to work with

Give the editor EVERYTHING they have asked for and then some. If they’ve asked for a quote, remember to add your headshot, bio and anything else that could be helpful to them.

It may be that they’ll be able to add your website or photos in the piece so it’s well worth sending in just in case. Don’t make them have to send 50 emails asking for things that could have all been sent right from the beginning.

Say thank you

Once the piece goes live, tag the person you organised the piece with and the media organisation itself in any social media posts when your quote goes live. It could be that you email to say the article looks great and send a thank you there.

However you do it, just remember a little thank you goes a LONG way. Be easy to work with, share the article and say thanks, and this could be what leads the editor to call you again when they need someone to talk about your expertise.

Voice of the self-employed

With businesses hitting the headlines during the global pandemic, I’ve been only too happy to contribute to the story and become a voice for the self-employed community. 

Financially, it’s been a tough year for many. Companies have faced closures, had to find new ways to create an income and many fell through the gaps for financial support. It’s no wonder that self-employment has been a hot topic in the news.

So it was my honour to represent the self-employed community and share my experiences and thoughts with the media during the past year.

Here are some of the media names I have appeared in the past few months…

The Telegraph - The Wave Awards 2020Quoted in the newspapers piece on “Fears for self-employed worked left high and dry by second emergency grant”.
(August 2020)

BBC Radio 4 - Today

Interviewed as part of their news piece on self-employment grant updates.
(October 2020)

BBC Radio 4 - Today

Interviewed as part of their news piece on self-employment grant updates.
(November 2020)

File:BBC Radio 5 Live.svg - Wikipedia

Interviewed live by presenter Tony Livesey for my take on the next financial grant updates.
(January 2021)

File:BBC.svg - Wikimedia Commons

Invited on the show as a guest to represent the self-employed in a debate.
(February 2021)

Pitching to journalists

When pitching to journalists, companies quite often will just email an introduction to their business and expect the journalist will do something with that.

There is a knack to pitching and the good news is that YOU can absolutely learn how to write a killer email pitch that not only gets opened by an influential editor but also gets a “hell YES!”

As a PR trainer and freelance journalist myself, I’ve seen it all. That’s why pitching is such a big part of my 1:1 PR sessions and ongoing training. Instead of just emailing journalists and expecting them to do all the hard work for you, I’m revealing all the secrets to landing media coverage.

And it starts with your email ‘pitch’.

First, introduce your idea

The first paragraph is crucial to get right. You need to get your idea and why YOU are the right person to deliver it across in 1-2 sentences.

Unless you are famous or known to the journalist, you won’t need to share your name immediately. Start by introducing your idea (we’ll talk about this in a moment) and, maybe, your job title.

If I was to pitch myself to write an article for a magazine, I could open my email with something like this…

I wondered if you would be interested in an article on ‘how to scale your business using free PR’ by the author of bestselling PR book Get a YES! from the press.

Dude, TMI

This is an initial pitch email to introduce you and your idea. At this stage, there is absolutely no need to divulge too much personal information or your entire life story.

Unless it is relevant to your pitch, try to refrain from sharing your back story that could rival the length of War and Peace. If you are pitching a real life story of which you have experienced then, of course, your thoughts are relevant.

After introducing your idea, the second paragraph of your email is where you can reveal more information the journalist may need to make a decision about publishing your idea.

I usually open with something along the lines of…

To give you a little background,


To give you some more info,

By starting the sentence “to give you a little background”, I’m showing the recipient what to expect next. They can then read the info if they need to. 

Get to the point

Whilst there is no set rule on what will make the media say YES, (every media organisation will be looking for something different), there is one key thing we can do when we’re pitching to journalists. 

Nail your idea.

Plain and simple. Send a good idea. And have an actual point of reaching out to them. Not just a hello. 

Share a story idea not a topic

There is a big difference between a story and a topic.

An actual idea would be the title of the article you want to write. Saying you want to write on a topic is too broad and doesn’t give the journalist enough to go on.

Here’s an example of the difference between a topic and a story.

Topic: Business growth


Story idea: How to use LinkedIn to gain inbound leads and never cold call again

Pitching business growth is such a broad topic with thousands of elements. The magazine wouldn’t know what you specialised in or what exactly you could write about. YOU have to do the work and give them an idea to say yes or no to. Don’t make them do all the work.

Make it easy to say yes or no 

You need your pitch to give the recipient everything they need to make their decision. Everything. If needs be, make a checklist or create a pitch template to work from ensuring you include all the key elements needed to wow every time.

Be clear what you want them to do next

Many editors and journalists receive pitches that are just an introduction to a business or a product. Yawn. That doesn’t tell them what they want them to do with your email.

If you emailed a magazine, they could be thinking…

Do you want their product in a gift round-up feature?
Were you wanting to be interviewed for the weekly ‘spotlight’ feature?
Or were they intending to write a how-to article for them?

Close your email by showing the journalist what you want them to do next and why you are contacting them.

When I’m pitching to journalists to write a magazine article for them, I will close my pitch with something like…

I would love to write this article for [magazine name]”

Then they know exactly why I am contacting them and can make a decision whether it’s the right fit for them.

Do your homework

Before reaching out to anyone, make sure you have researched your media outlets first. There is no point pitching a how-to article idea to magazines that never publish that type of article. Or pitching an interview idea to a podcast when they never have guests on the show.

No spammy attachments

When pitching to journalists, you may think it’s relevant to send a bunch of images with your email. More often than not, emails with large attachments can go straight into the SPAM folder so the journalist will never see it. And if it does land in their inbox, seeing large attachments could put them off opening it.

If images or additional information are relevant to the reason you’re emailing the journalist then adding a link to an online gallery can work really well.

Killer email subject line

Any good email needs a great subject line. It’s all very well creating a beautiful pitch but unless the subject line rocks, your pitch may not be seen.

I like to be really transparent and show that my email is a pitch and what it’s about, right from the get-go. 

Here are a few examples of subject lines that have resulted in media coverage for my clients…

  • Article idea: 10 brand reputation hacks for [magazine audience]
  • Pitch: Does Vitamin C really protect you against coronavirus?
  • Article idea: Ways to make money while baby sleeps
  • Story idea: What it feels like to [real-life story idea]

This allows busy editors to come back to the email when they’re ready to look at their pitches for that day. Plus it’s clearly labelled and not clickbait-y so the recipient knows exactly what it is.

Proofread it

We’ve all been there. An email gets sent with the wrong name or you forgot to change something after you copied and pasted it from the last one. While a template is helpful, be sure to tweak it each time for that particular media outlet.

And whatever you do, remember to proofread your email before you hit the send button.

Find the decision-maker

When you spend time putting yourself out there and contacting the media, you’ll need to make sure your efforts are noticed by the right people. That begins with sending your story idea to the right person.

Try to avoid generic email addresses like news@ or features@ as you don’t know who is looking at those inboxes or how often it’s being checked. 

Get your pitch directly in front of the decision-maker and send it to an actual person. 

Many media organisations will have a staff list on their website. If they don’t, you can have the name of an editor or journalist within seconds using LinkedIn or Twitter. Just search for their job title and media name, for instance, ‘Business Editor [newspaper name]’.

Pitching to journalists

Landing (and leveraging) media coverage can be a game changer for your business. My clients secure media placements from as soon as after our first call together. If you want to start seeing yourself in the media just click below to see how we can work together.

Why you shouldn’t hire a PR agency

Whilst I believe any business in any industry can benefit from media coverage, investing in a good PR agency is expensive. And actually requires work from you as a client. It certainly isn’t the answer for every company.

If any of the below sound familiar, hiring a PR agency, freelancer or publicist may not be the right fit for you…

1. You don’t want to do any of the work

The main challenge I have seen with clients over the years is not willing to be a part of the PR activity. You can’t hire a PR agency and then say “ok, good luck, call us when you get something”. You have to be available to brief your PR team and answer us FAST when we need something for a journalist.

Your company won’t magically appear in the press if your PR agency doesn’t know much about you, the inner workings of the business, or you never respond to them with the items they requested.

For instance, if you’re a tech company, your PR agency won’t be able to create quotes for the media because they don’t know the mechanics or science behind your products. You need to be around for them to get these quotes and answer the tech-y questions for them.

2. You want PR to save your business

I can’t tell you how many enquiries have come to me when they are on the brink of collapse or have hardly any money in the account – but they believe I can help them.

PR is amazing. I’ve built my entire life and business around it. But it isn’t going to save your business overnight. Media outreach needs to be done in the right frame of mind and not a “we’re in the pooper, we need PR NOW!” That mindset will never result in epic results. And also puts immense pressure on your PR agency to get quick results – which aren’t always the best.

If you engage a PR agency, you have to be in it for the long haul and not rely on overnight success and for it to instantly save your business.

3. You have absolutely nothing to say

With the best will in the world and the best PR agency, no one can flog a metaphorical dead horse. There has to be something or someone that the media want to write about.

Whilst it is the PR teams job to come up with new ideas, they still need something to work from. If you aren’t creating content or anything out of the ordinary then, even with PR help, journalists won’t print you.

4. You want to see results tomorrow

The first 3 months are crucial in a new agency relationship. A lot of planning and strategic thinking goes into planning out campaigns and getting to know your company.

PR teams will often be pitching to media organisations that won’t print you instantly. A magazine may say yes today but not publish your feature for another 6 months.

PR takes time. Like marketing activities, there are PR tactics that can see short term wins but these are the exception not the rule. Unless you have a story that is so drool-worthy and the entire nation needs to hear it, you’re probably going to have to be patient while your PR sets out their plan of action.

5. You hire a PR agency purely for who they know, not their ideas

Even a PR person with decades of experience and a Rolodex of contacts that would make Hollywood jealous, they still need time to have a newsworthy story about you. Just having contacts does not automatically mean you’re going to make the front pages. If you have no story, it doesn’t matter whom your PR agency knows, they won’t land any media coverage.

6. You think 1 newspaper mention should turn into 100 immediate sales

Appearing in the media won’t instantly result in a bunch of sales. (Sorry to pee on your potatoes there if you hoped it would!)

PR is the long game and all part of building your brand credibility and awareness. This goes back to the earlier point on being available for your PR firm. Once you appear somewhere in the media, a good PR person will guide you on how to leverage the PR opportunity. For instance, if your story hits certain websites, your PR agency would guide you on how to share this across social media, your newsletter, your website etc and how to get even more people to see it.

A PR agency’s job is to land epic media coverage. They are not in charge of your sales department. If your media coverage gets people to your website but the site is poor and doesn’t give the user what they want then, yes, you may then lose a sale.

7. You probably won’t implement anything your PR agency asks you to

I’ve had many clients in the past not do any of the things I advised and then wonder why the sales didn’t come in or why a campaign “wasn’t as successful as they hoped”.

Before hiring a person or agency to manage your PR you have to be committed fully internally and work with them to create an epic campaign.